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THE 10 GREATEST BRITISH BOXERS OF ALL TIME

By Sean Malone | December 19, 2007
THE 10 GREATEST BRITISH BOXERS OF ALL TIME

As I sat in my living room this past Saturday night enjoying a frosty brewed ale while viewing HBO's replay of Floyd Mayweather's domination of Ricky Hatton, it got me thinking about some of the top pugilists hailing from across the pond. Perhaps it was Hatton's "never say die" attitude or maybe it was the raucous crowd of Brits who migrated from the UK to rabidly cheer on their countryman, but either way, the inspiration for this list hit me.

Boxing as we know it today owes its creation to its London practitioners of the sweet science who, in 1867, drafted what is commonly known as the Marquess of Queensberry rules.  The core of these rules are still the basis for boxing in its contemporary form and with such roots entrenched in English history, it is only right that we examine some of the best pugilists to hail from the British Isle.

For the purpose of this list, I am defining "British" as the combination of the following countries: England, Scotland and Wales. So without further ado, below is one scribe's list, in no particular order, of the top 10 British fighters of all time.

Jimmy "The Mighty Atom" Wilde (137-5-2, 99KOs)

  • Won the British flyweight title with a 12 round TKO of Joe Symonds in February of 1916
  • Two months later, Wilde would go on to stop Johnny Rosner in 11 rounds for what was considered the first international flyweight championship
  • That same year, Wilde would be crowned world flyweight champion, the first of such title, by stopping Young Zulu Kid in 11 rounds
  • Fought in the United States for a year before returning home on 1920
  • Was stopped by Pete Herman in his first fight back in the UK
  • Lost his final fight to Pancho Villa when he was knocked out in the seventh round
  • Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990
Ted "Kid" Lewis (228-44-33, 80 KOs)

  • Won British featherweight title with a 17th round TKO of Alec Lambert in October of 1913
  • Claimed the vacant European featherweight title over Paul Til when Til was disqualified for a foul in the 12th round
  • Won the world welterweight title in a 12-round decision over Jack Britton in August of 1915
  • Lost the same title to Britton a year later in a 10-round decision
  • Lewis would later regain the world welterweight title from Britton with a 20-round decision over Britton
  • All in all, Lewis and Britton faced each other 20 different times
  • Knocked out Johnny Bee to win the vacant British middleweight title
  • Stopped Johnny Basham in 12th round to win the European middleweight title
  • In the very next fight, he stopped Boy McCormick in 14 rounds to win the British light heavyweight title
  • Was knocked out in the first round by Georges Carpentier in a failed bid to win the world light heavyweight title
  • Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992
Lennox "The Lion" Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs)

  • Won the Super Heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea; though he represented Canada at the games
  • Stopped Jean Chanet to win the European heavyweight title
  • In very next bout, stopped undefeated Gary Mason in the 7th round to win the British heavyweight title
  • Scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Tony Tucker to win the WBC heavyweight title in 1993
  • Lost the title a year later when he was upset by Oliver McCall and knocked out in 2 rounds
  • Regained the title and exacted revenge on McCall by stopping him in 5 in February 1997
  • Became the recognized World Heavyweight Champion with a 12-round unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield in November of 1999
  • Lost title when he was knocked out by Hasim Rahman in South Africa on April 22, 2001; Ring Magazine awarded it Upset of the Year
  • Won back the title by again exacting revenge and knocking out Rahman in the immediate rematch
  • Knocked out Mike Tyson in June 2002 in what was, until this year, the highest grossing fight ever
  • Last recognized consensus world heavyweight champion
  • Has the distinct honor of being only one of three heavyweight world champions to have defeated every professional opponent they have ever faced, the two others being Rocky Marciano and Ingemar Johansson
Bob "Ruby" Fitzsimmons (50-8-5, 44 KOs)

  • Nicknamed "Ruby" due to his red hair
  • Won the world middleweight title with a 13th round stoppage of Jack "The Nonpareil" Dempsey on January 14, 1891
  • Knocked out Peter Maher in one round in 1896 in a fight that was billed as the world heavyweight championship; though victorious, Fitzsimmons was not recognized as such by the media
  • Lost in controversial fashion in his very next bout when, after flooring Tom Sharkey, the referee ruled that Fitzsimmons had fouled and was therefore disqualified
  • Won the recognized world heavyweight championship when he knocked out James J. Corbett in the 14th round in March 1897
  • Lost the title in 1899 when he was knocked out in the 11th round by James J. Jefferies
  • Lost the rematch with Jefferies in July 1902
  • Won the world light heavyweight title by 20-round decision over George Gardiner in November 1903
  • Lost the title to Philadelphia Jack O'Brien by 13th round TKO in 1905
  • First fighter to win world championships in 3 different weight classes
  • Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Joe "The Pride of Wales" Calzaghe (44-0, 32 KOs)

  • Won vacant British super middleweight title by stopping Stephen Wilson in 8 rounds on October 28, 1995
  • Scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Chris Eubank to win the vacant WBO super middleweight title
  • Successfully defended his WBO title in 21 bouts
  • Dominated former super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy to become the recognized world super middleweight champion on March 4, 2006
  • Scored a unanimous 12-round decision over WBA/WBC super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler in November of this year
  • At one point, held the middleweight titles of all four sanctioning bodies
Ken Buchanan (61-8, 27 KOs)

  • Knocked out Maurice Cullen to win the British lightweight title
  • Lost to Miguel Velasquez in bid for European lightweight title
  • Captured the WBA lightweight title with a 15-round split decision victory over Ismael Laguna in September, 1970; the bout with Laguna took place in Puerto Rico where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees inside the arena
  • Added the WBC lightweight title with a 15-round unanimous decision over Ruben Navarro in 1971
  • Lost WBA lightweight title when he was stopped by Roberto Duran in 13 rounds in 1972
  • In his very next bout, he stopped Carlos Ortiz in 6 rounds
  • Regained British lightweight title with 15-round victory over Jim Watt in 1973
  • Regained European lightweight title with 14-round stoppage of Leonard Tavarez in 1974
  • Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000
Freddie "The Welsh Wizard" Welsh (110-24-16, 32 KOs)

  • Won European lightweight title with 12th round TKO victory over Henri Piet in August 1909
  • Would go on to win the British lightweight title two months later with a 20-round decision over Johnny Summers
  • Successfully defended European title against Jim Driscoll in December 1910 when Driscoll was disqualified after repeat intentional headbutts
  • Lost both European and British lightweight titles to Matt Wells in 1911
  • Regained lost titles and revenge with a 20-round decision over Wells in 1912
  • Won the world lightweight championship with a 20-round decision over Willie Ritchie in 1914
  • Knocked out Ad Wolgast in nine rounds to defend title in 1914
  • Lost world lightweight title to Benny Leonard by 9th round TKO in 1917; Welsh down three times in the ninth
  • Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997
"Peerless" Jim Driscoll (63-4-6, 39 KOs)

  • Won Welsh featherweight title in 1901 with a 10-round decision over Joe Ross
  • Scored a 6-round decision over George Dixon in 1903
  • Knocked out Joe Bowker in the 17th round to win the British featherweight title in 1907
  • Earned a 15-round decision over Charlie Griffin to win the Commonwealth featherweight title in 1908
  • Scored two decision victories over Matty Baldwin the same year
  • Earned a 10-round decision over Abe Attell in 1909
  • Lost European lightweight title to Freddie Welsh by disqualification in 1910
  • Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990
Jackie "Kid" Berg (158-26-9, 61 KOs)

  • Won the NBA light welterweight title with a 10-round stoppage of Mushy Callahan in 1930
  • Defended it successfully against Joe Glick via 10-round decision in 1930
  • Earned a split decision victory over Kid Chocolate later on in the same year
  • Knocked out by Tony Canzoneri in three rounds in bid to win world lightweight and world junior welterweight titles in 1931
  • Won British lightweight title with a 10th round TKO of Harry Mizler in 1934
  • Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994
Benny Lynch (81-12-15, 34 KOs)

  • Won Scottish flyweight title with 15-round decision over Jim Campbell in 1934
  • Knocked out Jackie Brown in two rounds to secure the NBA and British flyweight titles in 1935
  • Knocked out Pat Palmer in 8 rounds to win the European flyweight title in 1936
  • Won world flyweight title with a 15-round decision over Small Montana in 1937; first time the flyweight title had been unified in over a decade
  • Knocked out Peter Kane in 13 rounds in title defense
  • Knocked out Jackie Jurich in 12 rounds, but would lose his flyweight title due to Lynch failing to make weight
  • Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998

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